MOLLIEN, Gaspard Théodore. Voyage dans l’intérieur de l’Afrique, aux sources du Sénégal et de la Gambie, fait en 1818, par ordre du gouvernement français. Paris, Mme Veuve Courcier, 1820.
2 parts in 2 volumes 8vo [200 x 120 mm] of: I/ viii pp., 337 pp., (3), 2 plates out of pagination, 1 large folding plate; II/ (2) ll., 319 pp., (1) p. and 2 plates out of pagination. Owner stamps on the title-pages. Bound in light-brown calf in a design resembling tree roots, flat spines with gilt fleurons, red and green lettering pieces, marbled edges. Contemporary binding.
A first unfortunate travel in 1816 (since he was shipwrecked from the famous Medusa), did not discourage Mollien from desiring to explore inner Africa. Back to Senegal, he convinces the governor Mr. de Fleuriau to send him off on a mission. In January 1818 (he is twenty two years old), equiped with one thousand two hundred francs of goods and with an interpreter, he braves towards the unknown. He crosses Senegal, reaches Guinea in the mountains of Fouta-Djalon, discovers the sources of the Senegal and the Gambia. His return in the middle of the rainy season is disastrous: he arrives in rags to the Portuguese settlements of the coast and reaches St Louis in January 1819.
“Mollien carried out one of the first travels of penetration to Senegal” (N. Broc).
« We find in his relation new details about the Moors of the desert, and also about the Negros who live between Senegal and Gambia. Since the author lived among them, he was more able to observe them than the travellers who see them along the coasts, and that often only publish the result of what they have been told […] But what especially makes Mr. Mollien’s travel interesting for geography is the discovery of the sources of the Senegal, the Gambia, the Faleme and the Rio Grande. » (Nouvelles annales des voyages, 1820, pp. 196-197)
« Engravings and large map. – Contains vocabularies of the Wolof, Fula and Serer languages. » (Chadenat)
Mollien’s travel was successfully published in 1820, and republished in 1822, translated in England and Germany. On September 1st 1819, Mollien received the medal of the Legion of Honour: belated but truly real recognition of the importance of his travel.
We find at the end of the work a very interesting vocabulary of the Wolof, Fula and Serer languages.
The present account is illustrated with a large folding map retracing the route followed by Mollien, as well as 4 engravings out of pagination drawn and engraved by Tardieu.
A very fine copy of this interesting account of travel to Africa, preserved in its uniform contemporary calf bindings in a design resembling tree roots, a rare condition.
Provenance : Bibliothèque de Montmirail (stamps on the title-pages).